Friday, May 20, 2011

An Unconstitutional Utility Tax in Deerfield Beach???

[T]he City Commission of Deerfield Beach has no right to tax the residents of Deerfield Beach District 2. I shall not consider the Utility Tax Ordinance now lying on your table; for to what purpose, but loss of time, to consider the particulars of a ordinance, the very existence of which is illegal, absolutely illegal, contrary to the fundamental laws of nature, contrary to the fundamental laws of “Our” constitution?  A constitution grounded on the eternal and immutable laws of nature; a constitution whose foundation and centre is liberty, which sends liberty to every individual who may happen to be within any part of its ample circumference.  Nor, my fellow residents, is the doctrine new, it is as old as the constitution; it grew up with it; indeed it is its support; taxation and representation are inseparably united; God hath joined them, no Commission or Manager of Deerfield Beach can separate them; to endeavour to do it, is to stab our very vitals. ... My position is this—I repeat it—I will maintain it to my last hour,—taxation and representation are inseparable; this position is founded on the laws of nature; it is more, it is itself an eternal law of nature; for whatever is a man's own, is absolutely his own; no man has a right to take it from him without his consent, either expressed by himself or representative; whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury; whoever does it, commits a robbery; he throws down and destroys the distinction between liberty and slavery. Taxation and representation are coeval with and essential to the constitution. ... [T]here is not a blade of grass growing in the most obscure corner of this city, which is not, which was not ever, represented since the constitution began; there is not a blade of grass, which when taxed, was not taxed by the consent of the proprietor. ... I can never give my assent to any ordinance for taxing the residents of Deerfield Beach District 2, while they remain unrepresented; for as to the distinction of a virtual representation, it is so absurd as not to deserve an answer; I therefore pass it over with contempt. The forefathers of the residents of District 2 did not leave their native country, and subject themselves to every danger and distress, to be reduced to a state of slavery: they did not give up their rights; they looked for protection, and not for chains, from their mother country; by her they expected to be defended in the possession of their property, and not to be deprived of it: for, should the present power continue, there is nothing which they can call their own; or, to use the words of Mr. Locke, ‘What property have they in that, which another may, by right, take, when he pleases, to himself?

I borrowed this from history.  Lord Camden gave the above speech in support of the American colonist plight regarding the Imperialist British Crown’s and it’s Parliament’s imposition of the Stamp Tax of 1765.

I will not attempt to give you a history lesson here, but I will say again that it is ridiculous that we have to have this conversation in 2011, three hundred and eleven years after we fought an entire war to prevent “taxation and legislation without representation”.

I hope that everyone understands that this has nothing to do with my position on the tax, one way or the other.  This has to do with the residents of District 2’s fundamental rights to participate in the political process as American citizens under the 14th Amendment. 

First, the residents of District 2 do not have a duly elected representative to speak on our behalf on the DIAS and at the table regarding the Utility Tax.  Now, some of you may say that we get our chance at the public hearing on June 7, 2011, but the fact is we can voice our opinion but we have no real voice in the decision making process.  So I contend that this ordinance on its face violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

With the removal of Sylvia Poitier, the most vocal opponent of said tax and then the rush to vote and enactment of the same exact tax while the citizens, Commissioner Poitier represented, have no duly elected representative.  Combined with the City’s insistence that this decision be made by Management and the Commission, excluding the qualified electors of the Deerfield Beach , it effectively attempts to distort and rig the political process against District 2 residents, who are primarily African-American (a minority class).

With the minority residents of District 2 being denied the right to participate in government effectively violating their 14th Amendment rights under the Constitution, and the distortion and rigging of the political process by the City, creating a discriminating policy against a minority group who does not have the power to seek redress through the political process.  Thus, I contend that the Public Service Tax Ordinance, up for a Public Hearing June 7, 2011 is legislation aimed at discrete and insular minorities, who lack the normal protections of the political process, should be an exception to the presumption of constitutionality, and a heightened standard of judicial review should be applied.  After said review, I do believe that a judicial determination of unconstitutionality will be reached of the ordinances enacted while District 2 residents lack the normal protections of the political process.  
Before steps in that direction are taken, I humbly and graciously request that our City Commissioners, City Management, and City Legal Staff slow their rush to judgement on this ordinance and leave it up to the qualified electors of the City to determine its fate.  Especially, since over 8,000 qualified electors residing in District 2 are not able to fully participate in the political process and the enactment of this ordinance will effectively be “taxation without representation”, which is clearly a violation of our Constitutional rights as citizens of The United States of America, The State of Florida, and The City of Deerfield Beach.

Please note that I am not a lawyer and I am not going to pretend that I fully understand all of the ramifications implicated here, as many including Mayor Noland have indicated, “You can’t stop progress. We can’t shut down the city because we don’t have one commissioner.”   Well, Peggy, no one is asking that we shut down the City or that progress be stopped.  But if to achieve the progress that you, other Commissioners, some City Staff, residents, and special interest groups seek, while totally violating the rights guaranteed to the citizens of these United States of America is an atrocity and comparable to terrorism perpetrated against residents in Deerfield Beach.  First, with the practice of disallowing residents to speak on actionable items on the Consent Agenda's, then the layoffs and now with certain ordinances passed or up for approval while 8,000 qualified electors aren't fully able to participate in the political process, what other conclusion than structural terrorism can be drawn from these actions of our City.

"Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them."  Definition attributed to the United Nations General Assembly by Wikipedia

Structural Terrorism is defined broadly as terrorist acts carried out by governments in pursuit of political objectives,

The fact that the City of Deerfield Beach through policy, procedure, and practice effectively violate its citizen’s Constitutional right to participate in, not just observe, the political process at almost every public meeting, workshop, and hearings (See all City Commission Agendas, Minutes and Video) and the fact that we have allowed it out of fear of City reprisal or expulsion from the political process, does not make it right.  When an elected official or a City's charter indicates that an identified qualified elector cannot speak on a given subject up for discussion by the elected officials, it is morally, ethically, and constitutionally wrong and should be remedied the moment it is identified as such.
“Persons addressing the Commission during this segment may not discuss items that are on the agenda.  A three (3) minute time limit will be imposed on those addressing the Commission.  The Commission shall take the subject under advisement and refer to administration unless a majority of the Commission wishes to discuss the matter.” City of Deerfield Beach instructions for the Public to address the Commissioners as indicated on every City Commission Agenda.

As Citizens of the United States we are guaranteed under the Constitution the right to participate fully in the political process and the Bill of Rights gives us the choice to exercise those rights, if we so choose.  The City of Deerfield Beach has effectively negated our right and our choice.

Something needs to change!

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